Customer Satisfaction = Thinking Outside The Box!

May 1, 2012

Every builder wants to have outstanding customer satisfaction, right?  Our research shows that to accomplish the highest customer satisfaction builders must think outside the box, and I don’t mean the proverbial “creative box,” I mean literally outside the house box!

In our role as the “Voice of the Customer” partner for many of the nation’s leading home builders, we read and analyze thousands of customer surveys.  This extensive multi-market, multi-builder research allows us to  pattern and identify the industry's most frequent customer dissatisfaction issues. 

Top performing home builders know the best way to improve customer satisfaction is to accurately identify the dissatisfiers, and then manage these customer dissatisfiers out of the organization.  This concept is easily understood, but the big question is: "What are the top dissatisfiers?"  Today’s entry reveals one of the top 5 customer dissatisfiers.

Home builders, by definition, are very good at delivering a high quality “home,”  however, the “home” is too often thought of as the box in which the customer lives.  On the other hand, the customer considers their home as being more than just this box - they look at their home as being from lot line to lot line (L2L).  This difference in the "home" perspective is the source of frequent customer dissatisfaction and is literally “outside the box.”

These “outside the box” dissatisfaction issues include the traditional issues such as landscape installation, grading, drainage, concrete finishes, and also other exterior features that are often a builder’s after-thought (i.e. mailbox, utility boxes, street signs, utility services, etc.).  It is common for a builder’s Quality Assurance checklist to include interior features as detailed as electrical box labeling, but to disregard L2L grading, driveway finish, curbs, mailboxes, deck finish quality, etc.  Heck, there are some high quality builders north of the Mason Dixon line, that do not even go back to evaluate their “escrowed” landscape installation!  This is an industry-wide scotoma (Google it), and until it is recognized, owned, and resolved, will continue as a “Top 5 Dissatisfier.”

This week’s management meeting question of the week: “What are the company’s biggest outside the box customer dissatisfiers, and what can we do about them?”  

Charlie Scott has over 30 years of industry experience as a home builder, author, columnist, speaker, consultant, National Housing Quality Award Examiner and Hall of Fame member. Charlie has worked with over 200 of the nation’s best home building companies. He has been through five major industry downturns and during 2008 to 2011 housing depression, he gave away over 1,000 determined donkeys toys as encouragement. He can be reached at